Beck Anxiety Inventory
The Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), created by Dr. Aaron T. Beck and other colleagues, is a 21-question multiple-choice self-report inventory that is used for measuring the severity of an individual's anxiety.
The BAI consists of twenty-one questions about how the subject has been feeling in the last week, expressed as common symptoms of anxiety (such as numbness and tingling, sweating not due to heat, and fear of the worst happening). It is designed for an age range of 17–80 years old. Each question has the same set of four possible answer choices, which are arranged in columns and are answered by marking the appropriate one with a cross. These are:
- NOT AT ALL (0 points)
- MILDLY: It did not bother me much. (1 point)
- MODERATELY: It was very unpleasant, but I could stand it. (2 points)
- SEVERELY: I could barely stand it. (3 points)
The BAI has a maximum score of 63.
- 0-7: minimal level of anxiety
- 8-15: mild anxiety
- 16-25: moderate anxiety
- 26-63: severe anxiety
Note: women with anxiety disorders tend to score 4 points higher than men with anxiety disorders
Two factor approach to anxiety
Though anxiety can be thought of as having several components, including cognitive, somatic, affective, and behavioral components, Beck et al. included only two components in the BAI's original proposal: cognitive and somatic. The cognitive subscale provides a measure of fearful thoughts and impaired cognitive functioning, and the somatic subscale measures the symptoms of physiological arousal.
Since the introduction of the BAI, other factor structures have been implemented, including a four factor structure used by Beck and Steer with anxious outpatients that included neurophysiological, autonomic symptoms, subjective, and panic components of anxiety. In 1993, Beck, Steer, and Beck used a three factor structure including subjective, somatic, and panic subscale scores to differentiate among a sample of clinically anxious outpatients
Because the somatic subscale is emphasized on the BAI, with 15 out of 21 items measuring physiological symptoms, perhaps the cognitive, affective, and behavioral components of anxiety are being deemphasized. Therefore, the BAI functions more adequately in anxiety disorders with a high somatic component, such as panic disorder. On the other hand, the BAI won't function as adequately for disorders such as social phobia or obsessive-compulsive disorder, which have a stronger cognitive or behavioral component.
The BAI was specifically designed as "an inventory for measuring clinical anxiety" that minimizes the overlap between depression and anxiety scales. While several studies have shown that anxiety measures, including the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), are either highly correlated or indistinguishable from depression, the BAI is shown to be less contaminated by depressive content
Since the BAI does only questions symptoms occurring over the last week, it is not a measure of trait anxiety or state anxiety. The BAI can be described as a measure of "prolonged state anxiety," which, in a clinical setting, is an important assessment. A recently created version of the BAI, the Beck Anxiety Inventory-Trait (BAIT), was developed to assess trait anxiety rather than immediate or prolonged state anxiety, much like the STAI. However, unlike the STAI, the BAIT was developed to minimize the overlap between anxiety and depression.
A 1999 review found that the BAI was the third most used research measure of anxiety, behind the STAI and the Fear Survey Schedule, which provides quantitative information about how clients react to possible sources of maladaptive emotional reactions.
The BAI has been used in a variety of different patient groups, including adolescents. Though support exists for using the BAI with high-school students and psychiatric inpatient samples of ages 14 to 18 years, the recently developed diagnostic tool, Beck Youth Inventories, Second Edition, contains an anxiety inventory of 20 questions specifically designed for children and adolescents ages 7 to 18 years old.
Though the BAI was developed to minimize its overlap with the depression scale as measured by the Beck Depression Inventory, a correlation of r=.66 (p<.01) between the BAI and BDI-II was seen among psychiatric outpatients, suggesting that the BAI and the BDI-II equally discriminate between anxiety and depression.
Another study indicates that, in primary care patients with different anxiety disorders including social phobia, panic disorder, panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, agoraphobia, or generalized anxiety disorder, the BAI seemed to measure the severity of depression. This suggests that perhaps the BAI cannot adequately differentiate between depression and anxiety in a primary care population.
In a study examining the BAI's use on older adults with generalized anxiety disorder, no discriminant validity was seen between the BAI and measures of depression. This could perhaps be due to the increased difficulty in discriminating between anxiety and depression in older adults due to "de-differentiation" of the symptoms of anxiety with the aging process, as hypothesized by Krasucki et al.
Finally, the mean and median reliability estimates of the BAI tend to be lower when given to a nonpsychiatric population, such as college students, than when given to a psychiatric population.
- Beck Depression Inventory
- Beck Hopelessness Scale
- Major Depression Inventory
- Diagnostic classification and rating scales used in psychiatry
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